Hardware review: The Tether Table

Tether Table Aero Master

A while ago I was thinking about what would be the best way to set up all the hardware for a studio scenario and blogging about it with the reading audience.  The idea of the Tether Table came to me quickly and on approaching the folks at Tether Tools, it was met with equal enthusiasm.  So, in short order, one was dispatched to me for review here on the blog – this will be the one given away in the upcoming end of month finale for the March Flickr Contest.  So, without further ado, I give you:

The Aero-Master Tether TableTether Table Aero Master

The Tether Table is a pretty straightforward device – it comes with the table itself, made out of T6 Aerospace Aluminum (whatever that is).  Regardless of what the official name is – this table is pretty solid – I have no doubts as to whether it might bend under the weight of a laptop.  What I found to be really nice is that it spins onto a tripod (sans head of course) quite nicely, and just as easily fits over the top of a light stand.  The stability is also pretty equal between the two once it’s locked down.

So, how does the table lock down?  There’s four little Allen screws that tie the female acceptor tube to the bottom of the table through the top.  Their design makes them lay seamlessly flat so no worries about your laptop getting off kilter.  Here’s a few sample shots to show you the design:

Allen Screws (on top side)

Female Acceptor Tube (bottom side)

The other part that bears mentioning is the additonal kit item (not included normally with a Tether Table) is the Jerkstopper – a handy little device that attaches at both the laptop and camera end to avoid getting cables tugged out of your connection points.  They really help to keep equipment from falling, plugs or connectors from getting ripped or damaged, and the add-on value is well worth the $22!  Here’s the product shot from Tether Tools site to give you an idea…

Jerkstopper Kit

The first problem I found was that it does require either a light stand or a tripod.  So, if your camera normally goes on a tripod (mine does) and you have an external flash that goes on the light stand (mine does), then either the flash has to become more of a portable device (enter the wireless trigger system), or you need to get another light stand.  I initially lucked out in that I am/was running the triggers through their paces for my good friend Kerry Garrison over at Blackbelt Lighting for an upcoming review this Friday, but the need for another light stand has become pretty clear to me.  When I am using two-light setups though, things could get complicated, but that’s a personal gear issue, nothing really to do with the Tether Table itself, so no harm no foul there.

The second problem I found was budgetary.  While the sturdy construction and clean polished look and feel are certainly features I can appreciate, being on a budget, the cost of entry to obtain a Tether Table of this caliber is a little pricey for my blood.  At $179 for the Table and another $22 for the Jerkstopper kit, we’re over $200 and while it’s not inconceivable, it’s certainly rich for the enthusiast blood.  For most professionals it is easily justified and likely something you can itemize in an invoice if needed.  So, not completely out of reach, but up there for sure.  Oh well, no one ever said photography was going to be cheap!

When all is said and done, I do think it’s a worthwhile investment.  These can be invaluable in a studio or on-location shoot where you need to be moving around in between shots.  The benefits of both the Tether Table and the companion Jerkstopper could be invaluable in a number of environments, including macro photography, food photography, portrait photography, and most product photography where a dedicated preview monitor would be super handy to have! To that end,  I will be sad to see it go, but alas, the Contest Series gets priority!  Thanks to the folks at Tether Tools for their generous contribution, and best of luck to all the participants!  (If you haven’t entered your photo yet, the theme is FLAT, and the contest link is both here and at the top of the page!)

Have you got an idea for a product review?  Is there something you’d like to see a test drive on?  Sound off in the comments and I’ll try my darndest to make things happen!  See you next time here on the blog.  (And don’t forget the Facebook page where the “Behind-the-Scenes” video is posted on using this very table!…”Likes” and comments there are always appreciated too!).

Turning Tasks into Photos

Banana Bread 1

I had to bake bread for a work potluck today.  That’s ok, I like cooking, and it seems others do too, because most of the time the dishes I serve are some of the first things to disappear.  I decided last night to do something simple, but often popular:  banana bread!

When it was done, the house sure did smell good from the caramelized sugar, bananas toasting, and who doesn’t like bread?  (I know, I know – lots of carbs aren’t good for you…)  But, every once in a while it’s fun to indulge.  As luck would have it, this particular loaf of bread had some nice colors and tones to it, so naturally, I started thinking about my other hobby – photography!

With bread there’s so much you can do from capturing details, to using a shallow depth of field, to creative lighting and shadows, everything becomes a cornucopia of possibilities.  Here’s a few of my selects from just ten minutes of prep, 60 minutes of cook, and ten minutes of shoot time!

Banana Bread 1

Banana Bread 2

Banana Bread 3

Banana Bread 4

Banana Bread 5

Want a slice?  What tasks have you taken and turned them into photo opportunities?  The lesson learned here today (hopefully anyway) is to take something you have to do and make it something you want to do!  In this case, it was a win-win scenario for me, but what about you?  Sound off with your own fun-filled (or food-filling) photo projects!

Podcast #56: Is Blogging Dead?

Wright Creativity

Twitter, Facebook, microblogging, blogging, Audioboo, websites, statistics, logos, graphics, web design and more!  It’s a lot to take in and more often than not photographers who are just getting started ask me “Which ones should I choose?”  It’s a tough question because there’s no unilateral catch-all answer that will fit everyone.  As always, the answer starts with “It depends…”

So, to better address the question I decided to bring in a pro who deals with this stuff all the time.  That’s right ladies and gentlemen, we have another podcast! This is episode #56 of the LDP show, and I shared about an hour or so with Kirsten Wright talking about social strategies and best approaches and practices.  It’s an entire industry, and there are some who claim to know and then those who really do know their stuff.  Kirsten comes with some impressive credentials and a fresh outlook/perspective that many of us need.  It’s a good kick in the…well, a good way to get motivated to get going in the right direction!

Make sure you check out her site over at Wright Creativity and make sure to add her on your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn feeds, and everything in between.  She’s got gems and nuggets of brilliance galore to share.  I’m booking her soon here to help me get things streamlined (in case you haven’t noticed, my schedule has not been as consistent lately as I’d like it to be – Kirsten is my kick in the #$%^!)

If you need some focus, direction, and a good reality check, Kirsten is the one to give t to you.  Get it for free here in the latest episode of Learning Digital Photography:  Is Blogging Dead? with our guest of the hour – Kirsten Wright!